Okay it could be a bit better but I really struggle with nerves before giving a talk and then the writing suffers. There's some spelling errors and words left out here and there but I knew what needed to be said. But here's my talk. And in case anyone is wondering....I did manage to slow it down enough to give a 15 minute talk.
(holding up program) I’ve to say that I was a bit surprised to see my name on the program today. On April 1st, I left the kids home with my husband & made a run to the grocery store. Upon my return, he informed me that we were asked to speak in a few weeks. I thought it was a joke. A few minutes later the phone rang & I heard him tell the person that yes we’d speak and I thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke. I still thought he was joking-----and I have nothing prepared. (wait for laughter and look on bishopric’s face) Okay not really, but see that’s what happens when you call and assign me a talk on April Fool’s Day. J
Now I feel I should warn everyone that I really don’t like to give talks. Teaching a class I’m fine with but I really struggle with speaking in Sacrament meeting. It freaks me out to the point that I’ll put off til the last second as if it’ll just go away. Of course it doesn’t and then I stress out over it. This time I was determined not to that and started gathering and reading info from various sources to help me. And I had to laugh when I was reading the Oct. 2008 Conference talk by Sister Barbara Thompson. She shares a story about Eliza R. Snow’s niece. Eliza’s niece was called to speak in front of a group. When her niece arose, she was unable to say anything because fear overcame her. She finally just sat down. Eliza kindly and gently advised her “Never mind, but when you are asked to speak again try and have something to say.” Obviously I have prepared something. However, I’m warning my husband yet again that I’ve been known to get so nervous at the podium that I have given a 20 minute talk in 5 minutes. So I hope he’s prepared an extra long talk today. J
The topic we were asked to speak on is Service. We were asked to read 2 conference talks from the October General Conference to help us prepare. As I read them and studied them, my mind kept being drawn back to a day in January and the conversation I had with our 7 yr old daughter, Katelyn that evening. A little background info: My brother and his wife live in Long Beach. Due to past family issues he and I are not close but we have both moved on from the things that caused us to not be close and can get along at family functions. His wife, on the other hand, can’t get past these things even though she was not part of the family at the time. So she makes family gatherings really hard on me with her attitude towards me. At first I tried to ignore it but in recent years, my heart was hardening towards her in a big way. So much so that I finally took it to Heavenly Father in prayer and asked what I could do to change my feelings since I know I can’t change hers. The answer came very clear “Serve her!” Okay, I got that…but how? Then it dawned on me…….they had just had their second baby just a couple weeks before. Her daughters’ births were similar to mine……first baby, emergency c-section; second baby elected to have a repeat c-section. And just like when I had my second baby and my husband was back to work sooner than he was with the first one, my brother was back at work again……leaving her home still healing from a c-section while dealing with a newborn and an older child (in her case one not quite 2 yet). I remembered with fondness the kind sisters who brought meals to our home the first week after I was home from the hospital. What a blessing not to worry about dinners that week. So I knew then that was the perfect way to serve my sister-in-law. I planned on my making my favorite chicken enchilada recipe….one that no matter how hard I try, I always make too much. I put the extras in a disposable pan, grabbed some microwavable rice, made up a salad, took Katelyn with me for company, and headed into Long Beach. On the way Katelyn was filled with questions, “Aunt Jaimee doesn’t like you, why are we doing this?” I asked her if she’d ever heard of the word “service” and she said yes but didn’t know what it meant. I explained to her that service is when we help others in some way and yes we sometimes serve those who don’t like us. When we arrived at the house, I felt prompted on what to say and what to do……Jaimee opened the door with new babe in arms and though I really wanted to just snatch that baby out of her arms, I put the food on a side table and let her know that I understood how hard it is in the first weeks and month after having a second baby via c-section and that I was blessed to have had church members bringing meals into me (my brother and his wife are atheist) and that I wanted to do something to help out but with 2 active children of my own, I felt it best just to bring a meal by so for one night they didn’t have to worry about making dinner. I told her congrats on the baby and good-night and Katelyn and I left. As we drove away, Katelyn said “Mommy you are happier than when you usually see aunt Jaimee.” The reason was I could feel the spirit strongly that I had done the right thing and I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders that night. We drove on and Katelyn says “So serving others makes us more spiritual?” which took me by surprise….this isn’t the type of questions she normally asks. I answered her as best I could for her to understand. I told her that service can change people. It brings out the best in us, it helps us look outward to others instead of in at ourselves and it helps us to put others needs ahead of our own. A few minutes more and she asked “How does it make us more spiritual?” I think I was a bit relieved when we pulled into the driveway and she got distracted by running in the house and getting ready for bed like I’d asked her to do.
So as I’m reading sources for my talk the question of “How does service increase our spirituality?” kept running through my mind. It was then that I stumbled across a talk from the May 1990 Ensign by Elder Derek A. Cuthbert. The title of the talk “The Spirituality of Service” and in it he discusses 10 aspects of service. I really learned a lot from it and I’d like to share them with you today.
1st----Service helps us establish true values & priorities by distinguishing between the worth of material things that pass and those things of lasting, even eternal value.
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said “If you would find yourself, learn to deny yourself for the blessing of others. Forget yourself & find someone who needs your service and you will discover the secret to the happy, fulfilled life.”
2nd----Service helps us establish a righteous tradition.
For those of us with children, we can provide service opportunities for them from an early age much like I did when I took Katelyn along when we dropped off food for my sister-in-law. By establishing the tradition of service it will blossom into community service and Church service. In a world where we often hear people ask “What’s in it for me?”, teaching our children about service will develop a spirit of volunteerism.
3rd----Service helps us overcome selfishness and sin.
When you think about it, all sin is selfish. Whether it be lying, cheating, immorality, covetousness, idleness, it is for one’s own ends, not another’s and certainly not for the Lord’s. Service, on the other hand, is unselfish and constitutes a positive power for good.
4th----Not only does service overcome selfishness and sin, but it helps to recompense for sin.
The prophet Ezekial explained this when he declared “None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.” (Eze. 33:16)
Later James taught that to “save a soul….shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)
We can express regret and feel remorse for things done wrong, but full repentance should include recompense, such as service gives.
5th-----Service helps us generate love and appreciation.
We come to know others when we serve them---their circumstances, their challenges, their hopes and aspirations.
One of my favorite stories from my mission to the Buenos Aires Argentina West Mission illustrates this so well. As missionaries whether you serve in area for a couple months or long as Elder Anderson’s been here with us, you really come to know love the members. You come to know about them as well. In my 3rd area such was the case of the branch president and his family and myself. I knew them well enough to know that Pres. Brea was not acting his normal self at lunch one afternoon. He left home kind of moody saying he needed to take care of things at the ward building. Odd for the middle of the week. After he left, his sweet wife said she was worried about him but didn’t know what was wrong. My companion and I prayed with her and then we needed to be on our way. We were headed to our next appt. and my companion says “let’s go this way instead.” A path that would take us a few blocks out of our way but would end up with running into Pres. Brea. He was standing in front of a store display of scientific calculators and looking really depressed. We stopped him and we knew he hadn’t been to the church. We felt prompted to just come out and ask what was bothering him. He said he was supportive of his wife going back to school to get finish her teaching degree but she was taking a math class and needed a scientific calculator and though they didn’t look too pricey, it was still not in their budget to buy one and so she’d have to drop the class. And with her birthday coming up, he didn’t want to have her do that so that’s why he was so sad and down lately. What still amazes me to this day (and yet shouldn’t), is that for some reason as I was packing my suitcases to head to the MTC I grabbed my scientific calculator that I had only bought a year before and tossed it in “just in case”. I told him that I had one and I could give it him and he could in turn give it to her as a gift. After all, I didn’t need it and my parents bought me that one and could easily buy be another if I needed one again. He wanted to say yes, really did but didn’t want to have it be a handout. He offered me money for it which I wasn’t comfortable doing but he was persistent. But I told my companion I had the perfect idea……Hna. Brea’s birthday was a couple of days away. We arranged with her mother-in-law (who lived with them) to help us in our plans. We arrived an hour before they arrived home from school and work and grandma went with us and the young children to a little store for some decorations, a couple of gifts from the kids and ingredients to make a cake. Then we went back to the house. Grandma made the cake while we decorated and helped the kids wrap the gifts and make some cards. Hna. Brea was surprised when she came home. Pres. Brea was too but as we were leaving he said “you used the money I gave you, thank you.” It was the only right thing to do in my mind and heart and I knew this because I’d already gotten to know them through just serving in their ward and being in their home for meals. I also learned at this time never to underestimate how much children soak in…..their oldest, an 7 yr old boy, knew that I really wanted a HLJ ring (Spanish CTR). He had put two and two together the night of the party for his mom when she rec’d the calculator. A few days later at church, Hernan whispered in my ear, “Hna. Drew I know about the calculator and the money. You did it because you love us. I know you want one of these.” And he slipped off his ring (the one they get in primary) and placed it in my hand and said “This is because I love you.” I still have that ring.
6th----Service is the principal way of showing gratitude to the Savior.
We need to fill ourselves gratitude for His redeeming love, His infinite atoning sacrifice, His obedience to the will of the Father. As we become full of gratitude, it overflows into service.
7th----Service channels our desires and energies into righteous activity.
Elder Cuthbert says, “Every child of God is a storehouse—even a powerhouse---of desires and energies, which may be used for good or evil. This great potential needs to be harnessed to bring blessings to others.”
8th----Service helps us cleanse ourselves and become purified and sanctified.
Not being perfect, we are all sinners. We all need the redeeming and atoning blood of Christ to purge us of our sins. How is this accomplished? The way is through Christlike service.
9th----Charitable service helps us do as the Savior did.
Christ’s whole ministry was one of reaching out and helping, lifting, blessing, loving and caring for others.
In Luke 22:27, Jesus declares “I am among you as he that serveth.”
In D & C 100:16 we read, “For I will raise up unto myself a pure people, that will serve me in righteousness.”
Just as Christ served others, so should we.
10th----Service helps us to get to know the Savior.
Mosiah 5:13 states “how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served?”
As we immerse ourselves in the service of others, we find our spiritual selves and come unto Him.
In all of these ways, service brings us nearer to Christ, increases our spirituality and brings others likewise. And the wonderful thing about service is that there is no end to it. Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said “Therefore, let us serve one another with brotherly love, never tiring of the demands upon us, being patient and persevering and generous.” We are the hands of the Savior on this earth today. I pray that we can seek for opportunities to serve others and in so doing bless the lives of others. These things I say in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.